No. 4 Sooners Top No. 11 Arkansas in Season Opener

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 07, 2011
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 No. 4 Oklahoma Team Scores No. 11 Arkansas 
 49.000 Vault 48.900 
 49.000 Bars 48.625 
 48.700 Beam 48.625 
 48.775 Floor 48.925 
 195.475 Total 195.075 
 Oklahoma Event Leaders Arkansas 
 Stone 9.875 Vault 9.850 Pisani 
 Ferguson 9.825 Bars 9.800 Pisani 
 Kelley 9.850 Beam 9.800 Grable 
 Nowak 9.875 Floor 9.875 Pisani 
 -- -- AA 39.225 Grable 
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NORMAN, Okla.  --  The fourth-ranked Oklahoma women's gymnastics squad opened its 2011 season with a 195.475-195.075 victory over No. 11 Arkansas in OU's fourth annual "Beauty and the Beast" night Friday at the Lloyd Noble Center.

The Sooners improved to 29-2 at home under head coach K.J. Kindler with the win in front of the "Beauty and the Beast" record crowd of 2,351. On the wrestling side, the eighth-ranked Sooners won six-straight bouts to close out their 22-9 victory over Navy.

"I'm really excited about the crowd we brought in tonight for this event," Kindler said. "It's exciting to see that we are attracting new gymnastics fans and we hope the trend continues. The crowd directly impacts the athletes and this is a great start."

OU now holds a 6-2 all-time series lead over the Razorbacks and is 5-2 in season openers under Kindler. 

The Sooners took home individual event titles on vault (Sara Stone - 9.875), bars (Megan Ferguson - 9.875) and beam (Natasha Kelley - 9.85) while Kayla Nowak tied with Arkansas' Jaime Pisani for the floor title (9.875).

With one routine remaining for each team in the final rotation, OU held just a 195.025-195.000 lead over the Razorbacks before Nowak posted a 9.875 on floor to secure the OU victory and win the floor title. 

OU started the meet with a 49.000 on vault, taking an early 49.000-48.625 lead over Arkansas.  Stone took home the vault title after posting a 9.875 to close the Sooners rotation.  Senior Melanie Root posted a 9.825 to tie for third place individually on vault with Arkansas' Katherine Grable.

"I think the team came out very strong tonight and gained momentum from vault to bars," Kindler said. "We were able to get a lot of jitters out and there were definitely some superior performances across the board."

The Sooners extended their lead after a 49.000 showing on bars in the second rotation while the Razorbacks posted a 48.900 on vault.

"Another bright spot was the success of our starters on every event," Kindler said. "They were aggressive and got the lineups off on the right foot"

Ferguson led the team on bars and took home the individual event title after posting a 9.875. Nowak scored a 9.8 on the apparatus to tie Arkansas' Pisani for second place individually. 

OU posted a 48.700 on beam, paced by Kelley's 9.85 and Ferguson's 9.825.  Arkansas finished the third rotation with a 48.925 on floor, cutting OU's lead to 146.650-146.450 heading into the final rotation. 

"Beam and floor did not reflect our talent or potential there and I would have liked to see them close the meet better," Kindler said. "I know they can see where improvements need to be made and this group will definitely put in the work to make those changes."

Seven of OU's 24 routines Friday were performed by freshmen. Madison Mooring performed on three events after joining the Sooners less than a month ago, following her December graduation.  Mooring posted a 9.75 on both beam and floor and a 9.65 on vault. 

"Taylor, Hayden (Ward), Hope, Madison and Candace (Cindell) all competed for their first time in lineup situations and they were nine for 10 out there," Kindler said. "That is both impressive and promising."

Hope Bruce and Taylor Spears participated in two events each in their Sooner debuts.  Spears scored a 9.775 on bars while Bruce posted a 9.775 on vault, the scores were the highest by a freshman in the meet.

The Sooners head to Raleigh, N.C., for their first road meet of 2011 against N.C. State on Friday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. (CT).




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